Oman jumps on expat manpower in favour of Omani jobs

Published:  17 Jan at 4 PM
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In a move similar to those in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, the Omani government is reviewing the hiring of foreign workers in a bid to increase the numbers of jobs available to Omani citizens.

The government is asking its departments to assess which business sectors should be forced to focus on employing local workers and to propose new regulations on expat work permits. According to ONA, the Council of Ministers has been examining labour issues since December last year.

The council is also looking to identify suitable business sectors for Omani start-ups, and intends to collect information regarding foreigners who are in breach of the current labour laws. Government departments are expected to conduct field surveys to investigate whether work being done by expats is compatible with their work permits.

With local unemployment and unrest rising across the emirates, the Arab Spring has prompted concern amongst the oil-rich monarchies that their own states may be at risk. Several have already introduced schemes aimed at decreasing the number of foreign workers, with Saudi Arabia’s recent expat worker tax and Saudization programmes heading the list.

Oman’s unemployment rate sits around 20 per cent, with well over one million expat workers in its population of 3.3 million. Most foreign workers are employed in the construction, oil and service industries, and Oman’s economy is significantly weaker than that of most of the oil-exporting emirates.

The Omani government has created a high number of public sector jobs over the last year, and most Omanis are unenthusiastic about the low pay and long hours in the private sector, thus leaving the field open for foreign workers. Stronger restrictions on expat labour may force private companies to improve their working conditions and wages in order to attract Omani nationals.
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